Sink the Law of the Sea Treaty! the Bush Administration Is Pushing for Ratification of the UN's Law of the Sea Treaty, Which Would Give Control of the Oceans and Their Riches to the World Body

Article excerpt

Conservative Americans who consider George W. Bush a champion of national sovereignty have been shocked to learn that the president seeks Senate ratification of the UN's Convention on the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST). Despite the Senate's refusal thus far to ratify the treaty, it went into effect in 1995, and elements of the vast regulatory apparatus it outlines are already in operation.

When fully implemented, LOST would consummate the largest act of territorial conquest in history, turning seven-tenths of the Earth's surface over to the jurisdiction of the United Nations. It would create a mammoth bureaucracy to regulate exploration of the ocean depths and commercial development of the seabed's riches. The UN would also be empowered to collect royalties on seabed mining, thereby providing the world body with a potentially enormous independent source of revenue to fund its agenda for "global governance."

None of this seems compatible with the Bush administration's reputation for flinty-eyed defense of our national independence. Yet during her Senate confirmation hearings in January, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stated that the Bush administration "would certainly like to see [LOST] pass as soon as possible.... And we very much want to see it go into force."

"Joining the convention will advance the interests of the United States military," Rice claimed on January 18. "The United States, as the country with the largest coastline and the largest exclusive economic zone, will gain economic and resource benefits from the convention.... And the United Nations has no decision-making role under the convention in regulating uses of the oceans by any state party to the convention."

Rice's unqualified endorsement of LOST lets several important questions go begging. For instance: why is it necessary to sign a UN treaty in order to enjoy "economic and resource benefits" from ocean territory we already own and control? If the UN would have no role in regulating the use of oceans within our sphere of influence, how would it be in a position to grant us the "economic and resource benefits" referred to by Rice?

But nobody present at Secretary Rice's confirmation hearings was inclined to ask such pointed questions. Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), a noted Republican internationalist who supports ratifying LOST, was delighted by Rice's rapturous endorsement of the pact.

"I particularly appreciate your response on the Law of the Sea Convention," commented Lugar, making specific reference to Rice's assertion that the treaty was compatible with U.S. national security interests. "That's clearing up an issue sometimes raised by opponents of the convention," continued the senator, referring to widespread criticism of the pact as an infringement on U.S. sovereignty. He also cited Rice's statement that LOST "does not provide for or authorize taxation of individuals or corporations" and concluded: "I cannot think of a stronger administration statement in support of the Law of the Sea Convention."

Detailing the Deception

So great is the administration's desire to implement LOST that its supporters are blatantly misrepresenting the treaty's provisions.

Contrary to Rice's claim that "the United Nations has no decision-making role under the convention in regulating uses of the oceans by any state party to the convention," Article 2, paragraph 3 of the treaty explicitly states: "The sovereignty over the territorial sea is exercised subject to the Convention and to other rules of international law." As applied to our country, the phrase "territorial sea" refers to territory presently belonging to the United States. Under LOST, U.S. sovereignty over that territory would, in principle, be ceded to the UN.

Rice's claim that LOST "does not provide for or authorize taxation of individuals or corporations" is similarly dishonest. However, getting to the truth of the matter requires wading through page after page of murkily written bureaucratic language. …